Mumbai Marathon: Sidelights

Jan 20, 2014, 09:13 IST | Hemal Ashar and Fatema Pittalwala

It was fire from the athletes and fun for spectators on the route at the Mumbai marathon yesterday

On a Sunday morning, 39,590 runners participated in the 11th edition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM). With the sun yet to rise, volunteers, participants and spectators made their way from all parts of the city to the start line at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). A group of spectators walking towards CST from Colaba were calling out to lone walkers and asking them, “Are you going for the marathon? Let’s walk together” bringing the helpful nature of the city to fore.

Runners eat up the Sea Link with their strides. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Runners eat up the Sea Link with their strides. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Elite athlete’s coordinator, Jos Hermens of Global Sports Communication, Netherlands, said at the post race conference, that the race went smoothly and the only hurdle faced was due to amateur runners. He says “Elite runners need space and this was not possible for the elite groups at the back i.e. the Indian men and women and International women, as the amateur runners kept crossing their path.”

Let’s raise our glasses in a celebratory toast to Lalita Babbar, setting the new course record at 2.50.31 among Indian women athletes. Winning the Indian elite runner’s race, for the third consecutive year, Babbar managed to complete a hat-trick. Breathless Babbar said, “Though I haven’t made the target for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, I am happy I could achieve the target I had set for myself.”

The crowds at the finish line cheered loudly and the music roared through the by-lanes of Fort. As the elite runners were about to approach the finish line, a standing advertisement of DHL fell over. Fortunately, spectators quickly realized what happened and with some help from the police, they lifted the advertisement and kept it back in its place. Even during the race, the lead car tried to get the amateurs on one side to make way for the elite runners, by honking at them, but in vain. Again, the spectators called out to them and cleared the way. A special bow to them.

The 42.195 km is a brutal, unforgiving distance. Just as one started, amateur runners on the loop at the NCPA near Oberoi gave each other high-fives, shouted wow, and screamed encouraging words. Apparently, it was early days yet and the course was yet to take its toll.

Mumbai showed its spirit with cheering spectators, which are always such a boost for runners. Some were gracious, saluting the spirit of amateur runners struggling through the full marathon course. “We love your spirit,” they shouted. Others at Peddar Road actually sprayed runners faces with water, encouraging them to go on. The marathoners love your spirit too, spectators.

While it is important that roads are opened, it was difficult for amateur runners to wend through the traffic after a few hours. The cars choked the streets, of SoBo and the junctions especially proved precarious for runners. Mumbaikars must try to keep their vehicles off the roads till noon at least.

The marathon course started getting cleared quickly while runners were still on the route. Hoardings and km-markers were being put into vans and water stations were shut down, making it difficult for the slower runners. Let organizers spare a thought for the tortoise not just the hares.

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